What an amazing week I have had on the AMA Waterways ship, the Amaserena starting in Hungary, through Austria and finishing in Germany. I have been on several ocean cruises which are great, but a river cruise is a totally style of cruising. I have heard it described as going through a country rather than around it and I couldn’t agree more! River cruise ships are much smaller than ocean ones and have one restaurant and bar so life onboard is very sociable.
All the excursions are included in the price and vary between wine tasting at a castle, to city tours or even bike rides. We also had our very own Oktoberfest on our last evening in Germany.
This cruise was a wine themed one and there was a wine maker from America onboard who hosted daily wine tastings, comparing the American and European wines, and sharing his extensive knowledge with us. I certainly came away with a new-found love of an Austrian white wine called Gruner Veltliner and was delighted to find it for around €3 a bottle in the local shops!
We boarded the ship in Budapest and spent the first evening sailing past the illuminated city buildings which was stunning and then we were able to spend the evening exploring as we didn’t set sail until the following morning into Austria.
We started in Vienna which is a beautiful city and the tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable about its history. The evening was spent in a bar with an accordion player serenading our wine tasting event. We continued travelling through lower Austria stopping at various towns always with an option of an excursion, wandering around on your own or simply enjoying the sun on the pool deck.
We were shown around the Clam castle by the Count himself which had over 100 rooms (not that we saw all of them) and it’s own chapel. We then did some more wine tasting in the grounds, a perfect excursion! Linz was our last stop in Austria and again we had the evening to explore the bars following a bit of shopping in the afternoon, a very clean, fun town.
The last two stops were in Germany (fortunately they still sold Gruner Veltliner there) and we had a great couple of days exploring Passau and Vilshofen, very pretty towns indeed. We also took an afternoon trip to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic which took about an hour to drive to by coach. We were taken around for a tour of the castle and town and then had time to try a Pils beer which is local to the town.
This was an incredible experience, I met some wonderful people, drank some gorgeous wine, ate far too much delicious food and I can’t wait to go on another river cruise. There is something special about being able to see both sides of the river bank as you glide effortlessly to the next destination.
By Vanya Jenkins
Local Travel Counsellor
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